Cope Tiger concludes, reinforces U.S. commitment to partners, allies

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. James McFarland, exercise director for the U.S. Air Force greets Royal Thai air force (RTAF) Air Chief Mashal Surasak Toongtong, Chief of the Air Staff for the RTAF during his arrival to the closing ceremony for Cope Tiger 17 at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, March 31, 2017. The annual multilateral exercise is aimed at improving combined combat readiness and interoperability between the Republic of Singapore air force, Royal Thai air force, and U.S. Air Force, while concurrently enhancing the three nations' military relations.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kamaile Chan)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. James McFarland, exercise director for the U.S. Air Force greets Royal Thai air force (RTAF) Air Chief Mashal Surasak Toongtong, Chief of the Air Staff for the RTAF during his arrival to the closing ceremony for Cope Tiger 17 at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, March 31, 2017. The annual multilateral exercise is aimed at improving combined combat readiness and interoperability between the Republic of Singapore air force, Royal Thai air force, and U.S. Air Force, while concurrently enhancing the three nations' military relations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kamaile Chan)

Exercise directors for Cope Tiger 17 participate in the closing ceremony at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, March 31, 2017. The annual multilateral exercise is aimed at improving combined combat readiness and interoperability between the Republic of Singapore air force, Royal Thai air force, and U.S. Air Force, while concurrently enhancing the three nations' military relations.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kamaile Chan)

Exercise directors for Cope Tiger 17 participate in the closing ceremony at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, March 31, 2017. The annual multilateral exercise is aimed at improving combined combat readiness and interoperability between the Republic of Singapore air force, Royal Thai air force, and U.S. Air Force, while concurrently enhancing the three nations' military relations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kamaile Chan)

Cope Tiger 17 (CT17) participants during the closing ceremony for Cope Tiger 17 at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, March 31, 2017. More than 1,200 U.S., Thai and Singaporean military members participated in CT17. The annual multilateral exercise is aimed at improving combined combat readiness and interoperability between the Republic of Singapore air force, Royal Thai air force, and U.S. Air Force, while concurrently enhancing the three nations' military relations.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kamaile Chan)

Cope Tiger 17 (CT17) participants during the closing ceremony for Cope Tiger 17 at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, March 31, 2017. More than 1,200 U.S., Thai and Singaporean military members participated in CT17. The annual multilateral exercise is aimed at improving combined combat readiness and interoperability between the Republic of Singapore air force, Royal Thai air force, and U.S. Air Force, while concurrently enhancing the three nations' military relations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kamaile Chan)

Three members of the Royal Thai air force board a U.S. Air Force E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) for a mission during exercise Cope Tiger 17 at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, March 28, 2017. The E-3 provides airborne command and control, long-range surveillance, detection and identification information, further maximizing interoperability between the U.S., Thai and Singapore militaries which is essential in tackling non-traditional security challenges such as maritime security and terrorism. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kamaile Chan)

Three members of the Royal Thai air force board a U.S. Air Force E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) for a mission during exercise Cope Tiger 17 at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, March 28, 2017. The E-3 provides airborne command and control, long-range surveillance, detection and identification information, further maximizing interoperability between the U.S., Thai and Singapore militaries which is essential in tackling non-traditional security challenges such as maritime security and terrorism. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kamaile Chan)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. James McFarland (left), Royal Thai air force Group Capt. Supijjarn Thamwatharsaree (center) and Republic of Singapore air force Col. Chan Ching Hao, exercise directors for Cope Tiger 17 (CT17) walk along the flightline during CT17 at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, March 28, 2017. The annual multilateral exercise, which involves a combined total of 76 aircraft and 43 air defense assets, is aimed at improving combined combat readiness and interoperability between the Republic of Singapore air force, Royal Thai air force, and U.S. Air Force, while concurrently enhancing the three nations' military relations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kamaile Chan)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. James McFarland (left), Royal Thai air force Group Capt. Supijjarn Thamwatharsaree (center) and Republic of Singapore air force Col. Chan Ching Hao, exercise directors for Cope Tiger 17 (CT17) walk along the flightline during CT17 at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, March 28, 2017. The annual multilateral exercise, which involves a combined total of 76 aircraft and 43 air defense assets, is aimed at improving combined combat readiness and interoperability between the Republic of Singapore air force, Royal Thai air force, and U.S. Air Force, while concurrently enhancing the three nations' military relations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kamaile Chan)

Pilots from the Royal Thai air force (RTAF), Republic of Singapore air force (RSAF), and U.S. Air Force (USAF) listen during a mission briefing for exercise Cope Tiger 2017 at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, March 21, 2017. Over 1,200 U.S., Thai and Singaporean military members will participate in CT17. The annual multilateral exercise is aimed at improving combined combat readiness and interoperability between the Republic of Singapore air force, Royal Thai air force, and U.S. Air Force, while concurrently enhancing the three nations' military relations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kamaile Chan)

Pilots from the Royal Thai air force (RTAF), Republic of Singapore air force (RSAF), and U.S. Air Force (USAF) listen during a mission briefing for exercise Cope Tiger 2017 at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, March 21, 2017. Over 1,200 U.S., Thai and Singaporean military members will participate in CT17. The annual multilateral exercise is aimed at improving combined combat readiness and interoperability between the Republic of Singapore air force, Royal Thai air force, and U.S. Air Force, while concurrently enhancing the three nations' military relations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kamaile Chan)

U.S. Air Force F-15s assigned to the 44th Fighter Squadron from Kadena Air Base, Japan, fly together during exercise Cope Tiger 17 at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, March 27, 2017. The annual multilateral exercise, which involves a combined total of 76 aircraft and 43 air defense assets, is aimed at improving combined combat readiness and interoperability between the Republic of Singapore air force, Royal Thai air force, and U.S. Air Force, while concurrently enhancing the three nations' military relations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kamaile Chan)

U.S. Air Force F-15s assigned to the 44th Fighter Squadron from Kadena Air Base, Japan, fly together during exercise Cope Tiger 17 at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, March 27, 2017. The annual multilateral exercise, which involves a combined total of 76 aircraft and 43 air defense assets, is aimed at improving combined combat readiness and interoperability between the Republic of Singapore air force, Royal Thai air force, and U.S. Air Force, while concurrently enhancing the three nations' military relations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kamaile Chan)

A U.S. Air Force F-15 (front) taxis past a Republic of Singapore air force F-15 during exercise Cope Tiger 17 at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, March 24, 2017. The annual multilateral exercise, which involves a combined total of 76 aircraft and 43 air defense assets, is aimed at improving combined combat readiness and interoperability between the Republic of Singapore air force, Royal Thai air force, and U.S. Air Force, while concurrently enhancing the three nations' military relations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kamaile Chan)

A U.S. Air Force F-15 (front) taxis past a Republic of Singapore air force F-15 during exercise Cope Tiger 17 at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, March 24, 2017. The annual multilateral exercise, which involves a combined total of 76 aircraft and 43 air defense assets, is aimed at improving combined combat readiness and interoperability between the Republic of Singapore air force, Royal Thai air force, and U.S. Air Force, while concurrently enhancing the three nations' military relations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kamaile Chan)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Clayton Cruickshank, F-15 pilot with the 44th Fighter Squadron from Kadena Air Base Japan, prepares for a large formation exercise with pilots from the Royal Thai air force and Republic of Singapore air force during exercise Cope Tiger 2017 at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, March 21, 2017. Over 1,200 U.S., Thai and Singaporean military members will participate in CT17. The annual multilateral exercise is aimed at improving combined combat readiness and interoperability between the Republic of Singapore air force, Royal Thai air force, and U.S. Air Force, while concurrently enhancing the three nations' military relations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kamaile Chan)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Clayton Cruickshank, F-15 pilot with the 44th Fighter Squadron from Kadena Air Base Japan, prepares for a large formation exercise with pilots from the Royal Thai air force and Republic of Singapore air force during exercise Cope Tiger 2017 at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, March 21, 2017. Over 1,200 U.S., Thai and Singaporean military members will participate in CT17. The annual multilateral exercise is aimed at improving combined combat readiness and interoperability between the Republic of Singapore air force, Royal Thai air force, and U.S. Air Force, while concurrently enhancing the three nations' military relations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kamaile Chan)

U.S. Airmen from Kadena Air Base, Japan, dance with students from Ban Tanod Poonpol Witthaya School, as the Royal Thai air force band plays music during the Exercise Cope Tiger 17 (CT17) combined civic action engagement in Thailand, March 22, 2017. The combined civic action engagement provides an outlet for the countries participating in CT17 to give back to the community surrounding Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base. Over 1,200 U.S., Thai and Singaporean military members will participate in this year's annual multilateral exercise which is aimed at improving combined combat readiness and interoperability between the Republic of Singapore air force, Royal Thai air force, and U.S. Air Force, while concurrently enhancing the three nations' military relations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kamaile Chan)
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U.S. Airmen from Kadena Air Base, Japan, dance with students from Ban Tanod Poonpol Witthaya School, as the Royal Thai air force band plays music during the Exercise Cope Tiger 17 (CT17) combined civic action engagement in Thailand, March 22, 2017. The combined civic action engagement provides an outlet for the countries participating in CT17 to give back to the community surrounding Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base. Over 1,200 U.S., Thai and Singaporean military members will participate in this year's annual multilateral exercise which is aimed at improving combined combat readiness and interoperability between the Republic of Singapore air force, Royal Thai air force, and U.S. Air Force, while concurrently enhancing the three nations' military relations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kamaile Chan)

Exercise directors from the Republic of Singapore air force, Royal Thai air force and U.S. Air Force participate in a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate a new water filtration system donated by the three nations during the Exercise Cope Tiger 17 (CT17) combined civic action engagement at Ban Tanod Poonpol Witthaya School, Nakhon Ratchasima Province, Thailand, March 22, 2017. The combined civic action engagement provides an outlet for the countries participating in CT17 to give back to the community surrounding Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base. Over 1,200 U.S., Thai and Singaporean military members will participate in this year's annual multilateral exercise which is aimed at improving combined combat readiness and interoperability between the Republic of Singapore air force, Royal Thai air force, and U.S. Air Force, while concurrently enhancing the three nations' military relations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kamaile Chan)
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Exercise directors from the Republic of Singapore air force, Royal Thai air force and U.S. Air Force participate in a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate a new water filtration system donated by the three nations during the Exercise Cope Tiger 17 (CT17) combined civic action engagement at Ban Tanod Poonpol Witthaya School, Nakhon Ratchasima Province, Thailand, March 22, 2017. The combined civic action engagement provides an outlet for the countries participating in CT17 to give back to the community surrounding Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base. Over 1,200 U.S., Thai and Singaporean military members will participate in this year's annual multilateral exercise which is aimed at improving combined combat readiness and interoperability between the Republic of Singapore air force, Royal Thai air force, and U.S. Air Force, while concurrently enhancing the three nations' military relations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kamaile Chan)

KORAT ROYAL THAI AIR FORCE BASE, Thailand --

U.S., Thai and Singaporean servicemembers commemorated the conclusion of another successful Pacific Air Forces sponsored, multilateral aerial exercise with a ceremony here March 31.

Officiating the closing ceremony were Royal Thai air force Air Chief Mashal Surasak Toongtong, Chief of the Air Staff for the RTAF, Republic of Singapore air force Maj. Gen. Mervyn Tan Wei Ming, Chief of the Air Force for the RSAF, and U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. James Eifert, Air National Guard assistant to the Commander, Pacific Air Forces.

Royal Thai air force Group Captain Supijjarn Thamwatharsaree, accompanied by U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. James McFarland and Republic of Singapore air force Colonel Chan Ching Hao, exercise directors for Cope Tiger 17, addressed participants during the ceremony.

"Our friendly relations and close cooperation have been extended at all levels through various activities," said Thamwatharsaree at the ceremony. "And, Cope Tiger, a solid example of such cooperation has improved our operational skills and experience of the Airmen among our Air Forces and created a brotherhood that will continue to symbolize our excellent cooperation and friendship among our nations for years to come."

The teamwork and foundation of interoperability built through previous iterations of Cope Tiger allows ensuing exercises to provide new learning experiences, especially with such a variety of forces working so closely together.

"We've done an absolutely excellent job this year," said McFarland. “It is amazing to see how this exercise has evolved over the years and I think we'll be able to take this exercise to bigger and better places in the coming years.”

Despite some of the weather challenges, over 730 flight hours were logged and 812 sorties flown over the two-week exercise.

“But, to me, those numbers don't tell the full story,” said Hao. “It doesn't tell the story of the professionalism and effort that we've all exhibited throughout this exercise. It is not easy, with three different air forces coming from very different operating environments. Our ability to come together has really set the bar high for years to come.”

One of the most notable successes during this year's iteration of Cope Tiger was the first integration of the Command and Control (C2) Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance cell which designated a dedicated intel person to mission commanders for mission planning.

“Every year the goal during Cope Tiger is to increase the complexity and realism, which then increases partner capacity,” said Mr. Paul Pladson, deputy chief of the Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance war plan integration branch at Headquarters, Pacific Air Forces. “The intel mission planning cell provides critical intel support for mission planning which is important because intel is the driving force behind operations.”

Perfecting wartime tactics is not the only activity during Cope Tiger. In addition to working together as military forces, U.S. servicemembers teamed up with their Thai and Singaporean counterparts and volunteered their time for a cultural exchange at a local school. They collected more than $5,000 among themselves and donated books, school supplies and sports equipment such as soccer balls, volleyballs and kickballs.

In his closing comments, Toongtong thanked all participants for their hard work and dedication.

“I am delighted that the result of the training was successful and increased our participants' experiences and efficiencies,” said Toongtong. “And I hope that this exercise will always maintain a long lasting goodwill and friendship to our personnel at all levels.”

Approximately 220 U.S. personnel participated in the exercise along with approximately 1,000 service members from Thailand and Singapore. The exercise involved a combined total of 76 aircraft and 43 air defense assets from the three participating countries.